If constructed, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline — transmitting highly pressurized natural gas (about 75 percent methane) — would run approximately 600 miles through West Virginia, Virginia and eight counties in eastern North Carolina.
Methane is not only a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; it’s explosive, too. Poorly maintained lines can scorch acres of land and endanger lives, as seen in last year’s pipeline explosion in Westmoreland County, Pa.
Another natural gas pipeline threatens not only further environmental exploitation, but human exploitation as well. Running through some of our state’s poorest counties, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would endanger the ownership, function and value of agricultural and ancestral land, not to mention the risk of sinkholes, water contamination and the explosive potential of methane in proximity to homes and schools.
Though job creation is an important consideration — not to mention highly successful propaganda — a report commissioned by Dominion Resources, a leading company in the pipeline proposal, estimates only 18 permanent jobs in North Carolina once construction is complete. Development of the pipeline would discourage the region’s pursuit of renewable sources of energy that would reduce the threat of climate change and could quickly create jobs in solar, wind, tidal and other energy futures.
Despite the ominous possibilities, protests against other pipelines have been pretty successful. Influenced by years of demonstrations and pressure, President Obama finally — though perhaps symbolically — rejected the request to build the Keystone XL pipeline. And though the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is by no means over, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues its incredible stand against oil companies and their disregard for indigenous rights, land and water.
The thousands of native and non-native supporters’ defense of indigenous sovereignty is proof of power in solidarity.
A Trump presidency could terrorize both the previous and potential achievements of human and environmental rights activists. Now is the time for increased solidarity, action and dissent.
Protests, prayer walks and other forms of resistance should continue to happen as long as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline remains a threat. Research, fund and join these efforts. Explain that human rights and environmental rights are inseparable issues, exploited jointly for deliberate, ruinous gain. We can build on the successes at Standing Rock.